Archive for the ‘Advancement’ Category


The merit badge program of the Boy Scouts of America is a wonderful way to introduce boys to new hobbies, sports, crafts, and even possible careers. The awards require a Boy Scout to meet new people in the community who are the merit badge counselors. The counselor, who is knowledgeable in the badge subject matter and approved by the local Scout Council, works with the Scout to complete the badge requirements. When the counselor is satisfied that the Scout has completed the requirements he or she sings the merit badge application, commonly referred to as the blue card. The Boy Scout gives the card to his scoutmaster or troop advancement person who records it with the Scout Office.

As I stated earlier, the local council approves all merit badge counselors. Each counselor must fill out a B.S.A. application and a merit badge counselor form. He or she must also complete the online Youth Protection Training course. It is the council’s responsibility to keep an updated list of counselors.

The council may set restrictions on counselors. For example, twenty years ago , my council had a rule that a person could be a counselor for only six merit badges, and that a Boy Scout could only earn two badges with any counselor. Ten years ago, a person could be a counselor for as many badges as he thought he qualifies for, if the council agreed, and a Scout could go to a counselor for any of those merit badges.

At a recent roundtable the subject of merit badge counselors came up and I was surprised by the latest change. Our district will only allow a person to be a counselor for five merit badges. The reason for this guideline was to get the Boy Scout to meet and work with a larger variety of people within his community. While I understand the reasoning behind this, I am not sure I totally agree with it since I am involved with a Boy Scout troop located in a city of only 33oo people. How far should we expect a Scout to travel to earn a merit badge?

I was a counselor for six merit badges. Then I was able to increase that number to eight. Now, it looks like I will have to drop three of them to get down to five. I plan to drop Backpacking and Wilderness Survival, two merit badges that I have never had a Scout come to me to earn. I think I will also drop Cinematography. The ones I plan to keep are Camping, Citizenship in the Community, Collections, Hiking, and Scouting Heritage. I was once thinking about being a Chess merit badge counselor, but I guess that is no longer an option unless I drop something else.

Does your council or district have guidelines for merit badge counselors? What are they? Post a reply to this article and share them with us. I am curious to see what others are doing.

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    It is not a secret. Some Boy Scouts get nervous when it is time to do a scoutmaster conference for a rank. As a scoutmaster I do my best to put the Scout at ease and we usually get through it without a problem. Although there was the time when I held my first Eagle Scout conference back in the late 1980′s. That young man was so nervous that he could not recite the Scout Oath, even though he had repeated it at troop meetings for over six years. Ah, the memories.

    One of the Boy Scouts recently came to the house for his Star Rank scoutmaster conference. He was accompanied by his mother. It did not take long to realize that he was nervous, and that having his mother sitting across the room from him was not helping matters. In fact, I think it was making it worse.

    Let me set the stage for you. My front door opens into my living room. To the right, in front of the picture window, is the sofa. Across the room are two rocking recliners. At one end of the room is a gliding rocker chair. At the other end is the television and bookcases. When the Boy Scout arrived he sat down on the left end of the sofa, near the door. His mother sat in one of the recliners. I grabbed the troop record book and sat down on the sofa to the Scout’s right.

    Like I said, it did not take long to realize this Scout was a little nervous. I also noticed that he kept looking at his mother as he answered several of the questions, instead of answering to me. I moved to the other recliner across the room. This helped in that he now had an easier time looking toward me but he still looked toward his mother, as if looking for approval of his answers and comments. His mother was also commenting on some of the subjects we were discussing.

    I thought it might be better to make a few changes. I asked the Boy Scout if he was a bit nervous. He replied that he was. I asked him if having his mother sitting across the room was adding to his nervous. He said yes so I offered a new seating arrangement. I asked his mother to sit in the gliding rocker at the end of the room. I had the Scout sit in the recliner his mother had been using. This put the Scout between me and his mother, thus putting his mother out of his line of sight. I also asked his mother not to respond to any questions unless they were directed to her. She understood and pulled out her smartphone to play with.

    The seating arrangement did help. Once his mother was “out of the picture” the Scout was more relaxed and had an easier time talking to me. He may have still been a little nervous but the discussion moved along much better. He passed his Star Rank scoutmaster conference and his now ready for his board of review.

    Have you had any interesting experiences during a scoutmaster conference? Leave a response and tell us about it.

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      The Boy Scouts of America has a new merit badge. Chess anyone? That is correct. You may now earn the Chess Merit Badge as of Saturday, September 10. According to the B.S.A. Supply Line, “The USCF (United States Chess Federation) provided the primary contributing writers for the Merit Badge pamphlet. They will be helping to promote the badge through communications with the Chess delegate teams (similar to BSA’s National Committees and Boards) and e-mail blasts, plus website and “tournament news” announcements.”

      When I first heard about this new merit badge, I was a little skeptical about what it could include for requirements. Maybe some history of the game. A little about strategies. And of course, how to play a game of chess. Now that the merit badge requirements have been posted (see http://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Chess ) I have come to the conclusion that this could be a great merit badge for those Boy Scouts who enjoy playing the game, and may be a good tool to introduce new boys to the game.

      I think any Boy Scout who earns this merit badge will have to spend some time learning more about chess. A Scout will not only have to know how to play but will also need to know history, terminology, strategies, and how to score. I would have to do some studying to earn this badge myself, and I have played the game since I was a kid. I have thought about becoming a councilor, but I would have to get a merit badge book and read it before working with any Scouts.

      Take a look at the requirements at the link posted earlier in the post, and let me know what you think of the Chess Merit badge.

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        The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 held their summer court of honor on Monday, June 27th. The recognition ceremony began at 7:00 pm at the Melrose City Hall. All ten members of the troop attended along with many of their family members.

        The award presentations began with the Year Pins which are given to Boy Scouts on their yearly anniversary of joining the Scouting program. Noah received his One Year pin. A Five Year pin was presented to Thomas. Dakota received a Seven Year pin. Very few young men stay in Scouting long enough to receive a seven year pin.

        Three Boy Scouts received the Tenderfoot rank, which is the first of the six ranks a Scouts may earn, with the rank of Eagle Scout being the highest. Alex, William, and Noah received the Tenderfoot rank with their parents standing proudly by their side.

        Troop 68 surprised committee member Chris Massmann with a Community Service Award. Chris began her service to Scouting when her oldest son, Dakota, joined the Melrose Cub Scout Pack. She joined the pack committee and became the pack treasurer. When Dakota graduated into the Boy Scout troop, Chris moved with him and became a member of the troop committee and its treasurer. She has been with the local Scouting program for about ten years. Chris plans to retire from the troop committee in August when her son leaves the troop to attend college.

        Congratulations to all the award recipients!

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          The Troop 68 committee met tonight. The troop’s two newest Boy Scouts attended for their Tenderfoot board of reviews. They were very excited. In fact, they arrived before the committee did.

          The committee holds board of reviews at the beginning of their meeting. I, as the scoutmaster, present each Boy Scout to the board and then leave the room. The committee conducts the review and then asks the boy to leave the room for a few minutes so they can discuss his progress. I go back with him when they call him back into the room for their decision and congratulations.

          Both boys did very well during their board of review. After the boys left, the committee told me that both Scouts were well prepared. They also commented on the differences between the boys. One was very talkative and maintained good eye contact, while the other was more shy and quiet. They were impressed with each Scout.

          Both boys were beaming as they left the meeting as the troop’s newest Tenderfoot Scouts. They are anxious to work on their Second Class Rank. These boys have enough enthusiasm to easily attain the First Class Rank by the end of the year.

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            I was a Boy Scout for about three and one half years. While I had fun as a Scout, and even learned a few things, I did not get very far in the advancement program. Advancement was not pushed much in my troop. If we earned any we pretty much did it on our own, or at camp. Thus, I can say for the rest of my life that I am a Second Class Scout.

            How did you do when you were a Boy Scout? Did you barely finish Tenderfoot, or did you go all the way to Eagle Scout. Take this little survey and let’s see how the readers of this blog measure up.


            Quizzes by Quibblo.com
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              Here is something you do not see everyday, or even more then once in a lifetime. It is something special when four brothers in one family each receive Boy Scouting’s highest award, the rank of Eagle Scout. When the four brothers are quadruplets, well, that adds a whole new meaning to special.

              Check out the story about the Goodspeed brothers at the Bryan On Scouting blog, found at http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2011/03/10/quadruplets/ Congratulations to the four new Eagle Scouts.

              Are there any quintuplets out there who can do better? Hmmm? Anyone?

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                When I was a Boy Scout in the 1970′s there was no such thing as a home video recorder, so there was not a Cinematography Merit Badge. There was the Photography Merit Badge, however. I like taking pictures so I thought I would try earning that badge. I grabbed my Kodak Instamatic camera that used 126 film, a merit badge book, and began taking pictures.

                One of the requirements for the merit badge was to tell a story with photographs. I decided to do a story of the missing cookie mystery. The members of my troop would be the “actors” of my story. Even my scoutmaster got in on the action. He held sheets of paper with my opening and closing titles. I discovered, after the film was developed, that the writing on the paper was not dark enough and it was difficult to read the titles.

                The plot of the story was simple. The troop’s snack, a batch of cookies, had disappeared. It was up to the troop members to find them. They began searching the building in which we had our troop meetings. Pictures were taken of my fellow Scouts looking in various nooks and crannies. They finally catch the cookie thieves in a corner of the balcony, eating the evidence.

                Unfortunately, I never finished the merit badge. I do not know why not. Maybe I lost interest, or we lost our counselor. All I know is that I still have the photographs of my picture story. Here are the pictures for you to view, in the order they were meant to be used. The photos are thumbnailed. Click on any for a larger view.

                100 Days of Scouting: Day #10.

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